There has been no shortage of interest in Geraint Thomas over the years, with UAE Emirates, Saxo Bank, Garmin and Trek all showing interest, but the Welshman recently re-signed with Team Sky for an additional year, ending speculation of leaving for 2018.
Thomas, 31, was Team Sky's designated leader at the Giro d'Italia in May but was forced to abandon. He put his season back on track by wining the opening time trial at the Tour de France, and leading the race until the first mountain stage on Wednesday. He still sits second on GC, just 12 seconds down on his teammate and three-time Tour winner Chris Froome.
It was Thomas' desire to lead Team Sky in another Grand Tour that tipped the balance for him when it came to agreeing to stay with the British team. Terms for an additional season – 2018 – were already laid out in his last contract and he just had to sign.
"Just for next year, the contract was there," he told Cyclingnews before the start of stage 6. "It was just a matter of saying we'll go for another year. I've had some good chances this season when leading the team. If I'd finished the Giro then maybe it would have been a different story. One more year, with a team like this, it will be with the idea of leading in a Grand Tour at the Giro. If I feel like I can come here and be a leader, then I'd be open to that."
Thomas was reluctant to leave Team Sky without having gone through three weeks at a Grand Tour as a leader. This year's Giro d'Italia marked his first opportunity.
"At the same time, I just want to make sure that I can do a good job [of leading, ed]. I don't want to have everyone working for me and then just bomb out. I want to get a good Grand Tour under my belt first and have that experience. Then I'll go from there."
Thomas added that the decision to remain at Team Sky wasn't a financial one.
"It wasn't down to that at all. I didn't even get to that stage with other teams. Speaking to Ben Swift, UAE are always looking to improve and Trek are another top team. I'd certainly listen to teams like that. They don't just put you on a bike and see how you can go. They're innovative."
Thomas may be out of yellow, but his maillot jaune duties are far from over. Since leading the Tour de France he has been inundated with requests from home, asking if he can give away one of his jerseys. At the Tour he has the most serious and important task of protecting Froome for the next two weeks, while also aiming to finishing high on GC. Froome remains the main priority for both Thomas and the rest of the Team Sky riders.
"It's a bit strange being back in white. Actually, this is the first time I've raced in this kit," he said.
"I've said before the start of the race that I want to improve each year at the Tour. I want to be there in the thick of it for Froome, and if I do that then I'll be there or thereabouts in GC. We'll see how it goes. Last year I had a mechanical and lost time. I also gave Froome my bike another time and lost time there. If that happens then for sure I'll drop down.
"It was obviously really nice to wear the jersey and I would have loved to have kept it, but I always expected to lose it yesterday. Now it's back to the day job."
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